Securing a College Internship

“So, I just got back from career services and they basically told me that my resume sucks and there is no way I’m going to get an internship in what I want to do.” My daughter, Rebecca, said with a catch in her voice.

“What do you mean?” I countered.

“Well, the woman in career services said that I basically have no experience to get a job related to the environment and that all my past job experience is useless.  And she’s right, I don’t have any experience in that field, so I can’t get a job. “

“Well, you do have experience in writing and research even though it’s not related to the environment, you can certainly transfer those skills.”

“Yeah, I guess.” We continued to discuss various options of how she might go about networking and learning more about the field.

She paused and after a moment Rebecca replied, “but why do I have to get a job in the environment just because I’m majoring in environmental studies?  I mean, I’m interested in it, but I don’t really imagine myself working for some environmental firm.

“You don’t. If you could do anything, what would you want to do?  I know you love baking and writing, (my daughter writes a blog: dormroombaker.wordpress.com) so would you want to work for an organic baking company in its marketing department?”

“Yes, I would totally love to do that.”

And just like that, she started to see how she could transfer her strengths and passions into something marketable.

So as you enter college or if you are already in college and trying to find an internship or a job ask, think about the following.

What are your core strengths and passions?  What do you do just for fun? How can you translate those passions into core strengths?  Rebecca’s core passions are baking, writing, reading, and the environment.  In fact as she researched baking and food companies, she realized that almost all consumer products companies work towards sustainability and manufacturing in an environmentally friendly way.  By identifying her core strengths and interests: environmental sustainability, baking, and writing, she was able to target companies who share her core values.

How can you translate your skills in to something marketable? Think through skills that come easily to you or activities or positions that you gravitate towards. For example, do you often take on the role of treasurer and manage the money for a club? Then perhaps finance or accounting is a good match. Do you enjoy recruiting new members or promoting events?  Think about going into sales or marketing. Rebecca realized that her experience as a writer, baker, retail sales clerk, and merchandiser were no longer “useless” but instead became assets. She focused on companies and positions that valued her strengths.

What gaps do you have in your background and how can you fill those gaps? As you identify “dream” positions, read through the qualifications and figure out what is missing from your experience.  Then identify how you can fill in those gaps.

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